Communicating with Someone Who Has Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is frustrating and isolating and can rob people of simple pleasures like conversations with family and friends and listening to music. I want to talk to you about hearing loss, because I have profound hearing loss; and while I am forever grateful for the gift of hearing aids, I still struggle to hear in certain situations.

Protect Yourself From Hearing Loss

In this article, I  am going to tell you some things that you can do to help communicate with someone like me who has hearing loss, but before I do I want to tell you how important it is to protect your hearing. As a rule of thumb, any noise that requires you to raise your voice to speak to another person has the potential to damage your hearing. In some cases, turning down the volume is not an option, for example at concerts, sports events, at a shooting range, or in a loud work environment around machinery. The best way to protect yourself in these situations is to wear hearing protection. Hearing protection is affordable and accessible at drug stores, super markets and sporting good stores like Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s. The ability to hear is a precious gift and you need to protect that gift.  Like our friends at Walker’s say, “Protect It, or Lose It”.

Communicating with Someone Who Has Hearing Loss

So, what can you do to help a friend who is challenged with hearing loss? There are many things you can do to help. First, ask them what helps. Successful communication requires effort from everyone involved in a conversation. Even when a person with hearing loss uses hearing aids and active listening strategies, it is crucial that others involved in the communication process consistently use good communication strategies as well. Some things that work for me are to get my attention before speaking to me. Face me when you are talking to me so that I can see your expressions while you talk. Although I don’t read lips, I do use your mouth to help me distinguish some words. Don’t yell at me and be patient. It is frustrating to me too to ask you to repeat yourself.

Don't Yell at Me!

Missing Out Due to Hearing Loss

Understand that situations with a lot of background noise are extremely difficult to hear in. That is not the place for important and in-depth conversations. Move to a quiet area or simply wait for a better time.

I have told all my friends at one time or another, “everything good happens in a whisper”.

Those are the best conversations, and the ones I can’t hear. Don’t whisper to me. And even worse if you do and I say what?  Don’t say never mind and dismiss me. I don’t want to miss out! Take me to a private area where you can share those moments in a volume I can hear or even send me a text message so I can read it. Another thing is to pay attention to the listener. A puzzled look on my face indicates misunderstanding. Tactfully ask a hearing-impaired person if they understood you or ask leading questions so you know your message got across. These tips are just a few things you can do to help someone like me who struggles to hear.

The best things happen at a whisper

You Can Be The Difference for People with Hearing

Hearing loss can put a strain on relationships, causing stress, hurt feelings, and frustration over miscommunication. If you sometimes get frustrated with a hearing-impaired friend or family member, one good thing to do is learn more about what hearing loss is like. Having empathy and being able to relate to what your loved one or friend is experiencing with hearing loss may help increase your patience. The love, support and effort that my friends and family give me make all the difference in my life. You can be the difference to those people in your life too.

Learn more from the American Academy of Audiology.

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